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Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas began the team’s recovery after a difficult start to pre-season testing by setting the fastest time on day two in Bahrain, though team mate Lewis Hamilton brought out a red flag after a spin in the morning.

Bottas went top of the timesheets with a lap of 1m30.289s – though he did so using the softest C5 tyre compound, and with just 20 minutes of the session remaining when the track was at its fastest, so the Silver Arrows may still have work to do after a gearbox issue saw them miss almost all of the morning’s running on Friday.

It initially didn’t get much better for the reigning champions with Hamilton finishing 15th fastest after his morning appearance, with a spin at Turn 13 that brought out a 15-minute red flag.


After qualifying simulations began with an hour left of the day under the floodlights, runner-up Pierre Gasly briefly led, and ended up 0.124s behind Bottas on the same tyre. The AlphaTauri driver shared the car with Yuki Tsunoda, who finished 11th after running in the morning.

Fourth-place Lando Norris also had a stint at the top of the time sheets but eventually finished fourth on soft C4 tyres. His team mate Daniel Ricciardo led the morning session and finished ninth overall using mediums.

The day’s running was punctuated by two red flags, the first triggered by Hamilton’s spin, and the second coming when eighth-quickest Sergio Perez’s Red Bull RB16B engine cover spectacularly dismantled as he pulled out from behind Nicholas Latifi’s Williams. Perez used hard tyres for his fastest lap.

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll finished third with a very late quick lap, but his team mate Sebastian Vettel was slowest of all, with just 10 laps completed thanks to a gearbox issue in the morning, which was fixed in time for Stroll’s stint.

Alfa Romeo gave the whole day to Antonio Giovinazzi after Kimi Raikkonen drove on Friday, and the Italian completed 124 laps to finish fifth on the C5 compound.

Charles Leclerc couldn’t beat the Alfa Romeo with his flying effort late on, and finished P6 on the same tyre as Giovinazzi having taken over from team mate Carlos Sainz (P13) in the afternoon. Sainz spun dramatically in the morning but managed 56 laps in total, Leclerc completing 73.

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso made his first appearance since recovering from a broken jaw sustained in a cycling accident last month, and he set 127 laps over the day with Esteban Ocon watching on. Alonso traded places with Ricciardo in the morning but the Australian came off best by a tenth in that session. Alonso managed to finish 10th overall by the end of the day.

Williams’s Nicholas Latifi completed 132 tours, lapping solidly but for a spin in the evening as he attempted to pass a slow-going Charles Leclerc at Turn 1. The Canadian finished ahead of Red Bull’s Perez on soft tyres, with George Russell set to take over for Williams on Sunday.

Haas had Nikita Mazepin begin the second day of testing and he finished 14th, with Mick Schumacher finishing 12th after running in the evening.

The final day of testing is already upon us as it begins on Sunday at 1000 local time, with Russell to take over the day for Williams while Mercedes attempt to make up for lost running on Friday and Saturday morning, as they prepare to mount their championship defence.

The headlines look ominous but the actual performance isn’t ominous at all from Mercedes just yet. Two sets of C4 tyres, two sets of C5 tyres – on the face of it  looks like they were going through the motions of dialling in performance. And they were only with the mix with Gasly on the same tyres, and the McLarens and Aston Martin as well.

Morning report: Hamilton brings out red flags on Day 2 as Ricciardo and Alonso top the time sheets

Daniel Ricciardo continued to look comfortable in his new McLaren MCL35M, as for the second consecutive day, the Australian headed the morning session of 2021 pre-season testing in Bahrain. But there was drama after seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton beached his Mercedes W12 in the Turn 13 gravel, bringing out a red flag.

Although there were no signs of the sandstorm that blighted yesterday afternoon’s running, conditions were still hot and windy at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Those conditions contributed to dramatic spins for Ferrari new boy Carlos Sainz and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi. But just after midday, Hamilton attempted a hot lap on the C3 tyres when he lost the rear of his Mercedes and spun backwards into the gravel at Turn 13, bringing out the first red flag of the day.

Once Hamilton’s car was recovered to the Mercedes pits, the seven-time champion was able to head back out, completing 58 laps in total but only ending up eighth on the time sheets. But it was yet another setback for reigning champions Mercedes, who missed a large part of yesterday’s running with a gearbox issue.

Ricciardo, however, picked up where he left off from yesterday morning – when he’d led the times in the Mercedes-powered McLaren – stopping the clocks with a 1m 32.215s, some way shy of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s best time of 1m 30.674s from yesterday.

Behind Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso made his F1 pre-season testing debut with Alpine on his return to the sport, and quickly showed that he hadn’t lost any of the old magic, going second fastest on the C2 tyre, 0.124s off Ricciardo’s time.

Third was another driver making their debut for their new team in Bahrain, as Red Bull’s Sergio Perez overcame a brace of Turn 11 offs to take P3, 0.263s off the ultimate pace.

Latifi overcame his spin to go fourth fastest with run on the softest C5 tyres on his first day in the Williams FW43B, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, who’d gotten his first taste of F1 pre-season testing yesterday in the team’s AT02.

Sainz could only manage sixth after an uncomfortable-looking morning for the Spaniard in the Ferrari SF21, which he still doesn’t appear completely at home in, while Nikita Mazepin did a solid job on his second day in the Haas VF-21 to go seventh – the Russian having one heart-stopping moment where he nearly drove into the back of the slow-moving Hamilton, who ended up behind him in P8.

Antonio Giovinazzi was P9 for Alfa Romeo. But it was a challenging second day in the Aston Martin AMR21 for Sebastian Vettel, who managed just six laps before a gearbox issue confined him to the garage for much of the rest of the session – with Vettel emerging with just minutes of the session to spare to complete a practice start.

And with Lance Stroll due to take over the car for the afternoon session, Vettel will be all too aware that he has just one more half day to get himself dialled into the new car ahead of the season start.

So that was how it looked in the morning on day two. But with track temperatures set to dip in the afternoon session as the sun goes down and the floodlights flash on, we should expect to see the times tumbling in Bahrain.



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